Linux: The Tinker Factor Wins the Day

Linux: The Tinker Factor Wins the Day
Photo by christian buehner / Unsplash

The Ritchie family had a classic computer problem to solve. They had a used digital camera which didn't "just work" with either Linux or Windows in their home. The photos from the camera showed up on both, but didn't download properly on either.

They needed help from a geek.

After an afternoon of conversation and pie, the camera was working flawlessly with Linux, and no better on Windows. Here's why.

Showing Up

Linux got the the geek to show up. If you've got a modern Ford Taurus, and a '67 Ford Mustang, which one do you think your local shade tree mechanic will want to give you some free help with?

Older cars were designed to let you get under the hood and tinker. Likewise, Linux was designed with the mechanic in mind. You don't have to be a mechanic to drive a car, but it is helpful when cars are designed to be worked on!

Transparent Research

Some quick research showed that the Linux software developers had already created a newer version of the camera software that would be compatible, but it hadn't been released yet.

Having a fix be known but not accessible could be a cause for frustration. The alternative that commercial vendors provide is often worse for the consumer. Apple Computer will suddenly announce a new iPod model, obsoleting the model purchased two months prior. The commercial software process is more secret, less transparent.

If that model were being followed here, I wouldn't have been able to help. Instead, suddenly the upgrade would appear in a few weeks or months which would fix the issue. That's a solution, but sometimes it's nice to solve problems on your own timeline, not your software vendor's!

Accessible Software Developers

In the culture of open source software supporting Linux, leaders are responsive. So even if the camera model wasn't supported at the moment, I could discuss the possibility of adding support for it.

Good luck having a chat with the Microsoft Windows developers if there is a problem.

Getting Help with Open Source

Whether you use Linux or Windows, problems will come up. You'll need a mechanic of sorts. A geek. With open source software, geeks have a much larger tool chest to use to solve problems.

If you aren't sure where to start, try for general Ubuntu Linux support, or trying starting at the website of the software you have a question about. Often you'll find free support options listed there.